Keeping love warm – Thoughts from our 7th anniversary celebration

Every wedding anniversary is a time to celebrate the years that have been marked, the milestones that have been ticked off, the accomplishments…

But it is also a time to think about the future.

What kind of life do we envision? Who do we want to become, and stand for, as a couple?

In a couple of years, the kids won’t want to be around us so much. We won’t be needed so much. We will finally have some free time.

What will we do with each other then? Will the flaws show up? Will we start to nitpick? Will we get bored?



So we celebrated our anniversary over the weekend. It was at our usual spot, the place where we tied the knot. We visit every year, and it’s interesting to see how they’ve continued to do up and enhance the venue and its offerings year by year.

We decided to order the afternoon tea set. I ordered a black tea with a strange name. We sat and ate and chatted for two hours.

Towards the end of it, I realised that my tea was still warm! I examined the tea pot, and lifted up the shiny metal cover. Underneath was some kind of rubber insulation material. Ah-hah. There was the simple magic to keep the tea pot warm.

I thought about marriage. There is so much at stake within a marriage, and yet marriage itself is so much at risk these days.

How do we keep the love warm? What are the insulators that will help us defend ourselves from the many temptations?

In the past, divorce used to be taboo and frowned upon by society. That in itself was a deterrent for married ones to be too quick at calling it quits.

Today, there is pornography and all manner of sexual addictions, there is the temptation of affairs both online and off, there are financial stresses and burdens on young couples, there is the ever present lure of work and shrinking of leisure and family time.

Let’s be honest, it is hard.

We need to take a long hard look at how we are insulating ourselves from the elements. What is our rubber insulation hidden under a shiny metal cover?

  • Are we working on our communication?
  • Are we aware of our own negative attitudes?
  • Are we making time for sex and intimacy amidst our hectic lifestyles?
  • Are we giving attention to each other even while having to give so much attention to our children?
  • Are we leaning on God for help in the areas where we are weak?
  • Are we showing appreciation for the things that he does?

Over the warm tea, we evaluated ourselves and where we’re at. We both agreed that over the past seven years, we’ve been so caught up in the whirlwind of parenthood that we’ve neglected to really put in the work on our marriage.

Our role as parents will diminish as the years go by, as our children grow in independence and responsibility and prepare to face the world as adults. However, our role as husband and wife remains for life.

This year, I hope that we’ll work on creating more quality moments together, and seek to understand more than to judge and criticise. I will work on being a better partner, and on learning how to complement him better.

My prayer is that we’ll not just be life partners, but partners in life, for life.

What are some ways you keep your love warm?

What happens when mummy and daddy fights

The hub was a little pissed off with me one evening. He started talking rather loudly, and was a tad fierce even.

I had something to retort and it was already on my lips. But all of a sudden, Vera appeared from nowhere and slapped him on his back. She said something to the effect of “Don’t talk like that” or “Don’t do that.” Then she waltzed off.

Following her cue, JJ came along and also gave his dad a slap on the shoulders. He said, “You don’t beat mummy” in his fiercest voice. (Funny how he got confused and thought daddy was beating me.)

At this point, I had already forgotten what I wanted to say and started to laugh instead. I felt like the kids had seriously got my back covered.

A smile also appeared on the hubby’s lips. Obviously he couldn’t stay angry for long. He started to play along with them and said, “Of course daddy won’t beat mummy, daddy will tell her nicely not to do it again.”

Trust the kids to help defuse a tense situation unwittingly. I asked Vera later on why she did what she did. She told me matter-of-factly that she thinks Daddy should talk nicely to mummy all the time.

Wow. That’s nice to know, isn’t it.

But seriously, I think it was also because Vera felt uncomfortable seeing her father speak harshly to her mother. (And the reverse also holds true by the way. I recall speaking rudely to the hubby once and she exclaimed “mummy!” in a scolding voice. And once when we were squabbling, she said, “You all don’t talk like that ah!” or something similar.)

So…What can one conclude?

First, I think children feel a distinct discomfort when the parents fight. Or if the situation is tense enough, they could start feeling fearful. If the child is verbal enough, they will express it. For Vera, she expresses it by showing her disdain.

Second, I think she only reacted so strongly because the hubs was pretty fierce this time, and granted, this was actually uncharacteristic of him. (Not trying to give him credit here, just the facts.)

Third, now I know that the kids are always watching. I used to think they can be quite blur, but when it comes to the crunch, it appears they are more in tune with what’s going on around them than we think.

You know how we often say to our children, when you’re happy, I’m happy? It looks like the converse is also true. When we as parents are happy, our children are happy too. When we cry or are stressed, they get affected too.

So we did what responsible adults and parents should do – make up.

I tell you the truth, I was smiling all the way to bed that night.

Now that I’ve discovered I’ve got bodyguards / guardian angels around me…erm, I think daddy had better behave himself from now on. ;)


13 ways to love your wife on Valentine’s day

How are you planning to spend Valentine’s Day? V day usually encompasses a dinner date (not on the actual day of course), and the occasional chocolates or flowers. It’s quite a down-to-earth affair for us. For me, simple words of encouragement (or no. 9 on the list below) would be the best gift to relish.

I hope you’ll find some inspiration to love here…

1) Re-create a spa experience at home with scented candles, aromatherapy, ambient music, and facial masks. Use a simple massage oil like jojoba and help massage the knots out from her tired shoulders and back. (The only catch is, you can’t fall asleep before she does.)

2) Take her out for an unforgettable dinner experience at Nox Dine in the Dark. (The best part about this is probably the fact that you can’t use your mobile phones! Read more about the experience over at A Nugget of Joy.)

3) Another place you might want to check out is MAD Museum of Art and Design. It’s a new establishment so not too crowded yet. After dinner, you can take a leisurely walk through the museum or pick up cute memorabilia from the likes of when I was four from the retail store (Note: one of the current exhibitions on the ground floor houses nudity due to its erotic theme. This may be a little weird so head on right upstairs for more interesting art pieces.)

4) Re-create your first date. Go to that special place or restaurant and play-pretend. It’ll be fun to see the things that you guys remember about it!

5) Say it with love with this Chope-you card, Norma wallet or this handcrafted “Wonderfully Made” wood piece.

6) Treat her to a lovely lovely Gula Melaka cake from Shop Wonderland at Haji Lane, and give her a generous budget to shop around at the retail store upstairs or any of the neighbouring stores.

7) Pack a personalized picnic basket filled with her favourite things, and hang out on the lovely greens of Botanic Gardens, Labrador Park, Hort Park or East Coast Park. Some flowers or helium ballons would be a nice touch too. (While you’re at it, maybe hire a photographer to capture some natural lovey-dovey couple shots!)

8) Try whipping up a simple steak with whipped potato and mushrooms on the side. The condition is that she must remain out of the kitchen and spend her time instead having a leisurely bath and dolling herself up for a candlelight dinner. (Of course, kids should be parked at the babysitter’s.)

9) Handwritten notes or cards never go out of style, so it’s time to dust that pen and write her a love note. Try to list down 5-10 things that you appreciate or love about her.

10) Go on a mini adventure together – cycling at pulau ubin perhaps or take up a new sport like stand up paddling or windsurfing. Studies show that the more new experiences a couple has, the more fulfilled they are with their marriage.

11) Put on your favourite album and do a slow dance together in the bedroom when the kids are fast asleep.

12) Catch a classic romantic comedy together. Not sure what to watch? Here are some ideas.

13) Do a staycation – just the two of you at one of these 10 whimsical boutique hotels in Singapore.

like-a-tree 1

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, remember that it’s all about making time to relax together, hug, kiss, and laugh together. It’s about clearing away the distractions to focus on your sole mate, and to tune in to her heartbeat. No matter what challenges lie ahead, remind her that you’ll always be there for her, and that is the most important thing…

For more ideas, read 30 ways to love your wife and 30 ways to love your husband.

Little Lessons: Learning to love extravagantly

A friend gave me a pack of Love Dare cards not long after I got married. From time to time, I refer to it for little reminders on how to be more loving and thoughtful to my hubby.

This particular one has got me thinking this past week about how I can love more extravagantly. Something extraordinary, and that goes beyond our normal routine.

love dare

Extravagant love need not come with a hefty price tag. But it’s often big on thoughtfulness, effort and sometimes creativity.

It could mean walking malls in search of that out-of-stock briefcase.

It could mean rounding up a few of her friends to help plan that surprise birthday party.

It could mean going all out to have that much needed we-time at your special favorite cafe or restaurant.

It could mean reminding her to schedule some rest and relaxation time while you take over child-minding duties on a Saturday afternoon.

It could mean learning to cook his all-time favourite dish.

It could mean that we stop complaining and starting our sentences with, “You always…” or “You never…”

Post-children, it’s easy to lavishly love our children, and to scrimp a little on our spouse. They take centre-stage and the spouse gets the leftovers. Why is this so?

It’s easy to take each other for granted, to lapse into a comfortable all-is-well mode. But this love dare card reminds me to push the envelope, and to think of new ways to show my appreciation and love for the hubby.

It also reminds me of the origin of love. That God is love, and that He abounds in love towards us.

I pray this weekend you will discover that love knows no boundaries. May thinking of new ways to love become part and parcel of the way we do family.

This is Little Lessons #27. Grab our badge and link up your little lessons / reflections below!

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Weekend wishes and musings on marriage

“Marriage is not simply the luck of the draw, or something that we get involved in which just unfolds before us like a long movie. Good marriage, like good individual lives or good art, are conscious creations. They are made.” – Kevin and Marilyn Ryan

I’ve been thinking about marriage and relationships lately. More specifically, on how much intentional effort and time it takes to achieve a deep understanding of each other, and to grow in intimacy and trust.

I confess that with three little ones, it’s easy to let the kids take over and steal the show. (And to let marriage subtly slide into second place.) Because their voices are so loud and their needs so immediate, everything about them comes first.

But what’s urgent may not always coincide with what’s important. And marriage is one of those things that can easily be shoved to a corner, while we’re busy fighting fires or changing poopy diapers.

I need to remember to place my marriage as priority, and to place my husband as priority. It comes second to none, except perhaps our personal relationship with God.

The weekends are usually busy and full of different activities, commitments.  But I pray that this weekend, you’ll make time to savour some sweet moments with your spouse, recollect some good memories perhaps, or even a funny incident. Hold hands, even as the little ones tug at your shirt. Share with him what’s been on your heart. Be ready to listen too.

Be humble, quick to forgive, and slow to anger.

Have a sweet and loving weekend, friends.

3 awesome ways to reconnect with your spouse

3 awesome ways to reconnect

I’ve been talking about self-care lately, and one of the things on my heart is to really invest time and energy into my marriage.

What’s marriage got to do with self-care? Well, a woman’s heart is all about relationships, and the marriage relationship is a key one to nurture. It’s always easy to lose track, to be caught up with our work or family obligations, or just busy giving face-time to our gadgets and screens rather than each other.

So here are 3 of our favourite activities that I’ve found helps to set the mood for reconnection to happen. (The best part? You don’t need to spend a bomb on anything.)

1. Couple mask night

Ahem, confession time. The hubby and I enjoy putting on masks together. It’s silly I know, but also very therapeutic.

We haven’t been able to do it as regularly as we like to, and only recently got started on it again. During the half hour or so, we just lie in bed with our masks on, and talk and talk and talk.

If you’ve never tried it, you might want to give it a go. it’s a great opportunity to reconnect (maybe cos we’re just stuck with each other for an entire 30 minutes) amidst all the busyness.

And for us ladies, we also get to moisturise the skin at the same time. So win-win. ;)

2. Go on a jog-date

I’m not a running type of person but I can manage a jog-walk. The hubby is gracious enough to slow down to my humble pace and just enjoy the evening air and scenery as we jog down the park. We talk about anything and everything, mostly about his work, and also the kids. Sometimes I share my worries and sometimes about my dreams.

Something about the air and the adrenaline helps to get blood pumping into my brain and I always feel a sense of clarity after the exercise.

I never thought I’d manage (much less enjoy) talking while running but I’ve managed to surprise myself. At the end of the run, we reward ourselves with some yummy hawker favourites like prawn noodles and bbq chicken wings. Or pig out on pizza from an Italian joint nearby.

It always feels good to work out together, so I hope to keep this up regularly (that means 2-3 times a month).

3. Have a device-free night

I must admit there’s always some inertia and even sweaty palms whenever I plan for this. I worry about what if I miss out on some major news break in the world, or on some important message from my Whatsapp / Facebook chat threads. (Yes, the gadget lifestyle has made us all a little paranoid about our social worlds. This has also made me realise how much a victim of “the urgent” I have become.)

The last weekend, I tried to have a device-free night (meaning mobile phone, laptop, and ipad are all switched off or on airplane mode from 7-12 midnight), but the hubby unfortunately had to get some work done, so we had to postpone it.

I think for such a night to be counted as fruitful and restful, it should feature some fun – maybe a movie or cooking something together, some sharing or planning (thinking about the future), and some quiet reflection (reading a book or the bible, and then sharing what you learnt).

So this is still on my list, and I plan to do it at least once a month.

I guess what you guys do doesn’t matter as much as how you intentionally set aside time and space to connect with your spouse.

Now it’s your turn…What’s your favourite way to reconnect? 

30 ways to love your wife (Singapore edition)

As follow up to the post on 30 ways to love your husband, here is the wife version. I had lots of fun writing this post (almost wanted to go on and on!) and I hope you hubbies get some ideas here as well. ;)

30 ways to love your wife

1) Develop great listening skills. When she needs to share something with you, set aside time for her, and just try to listen and not offer quick-fix solutions.

2) Save your eyes only for her.

3) Make time to date her, pursue her, make her feel valued and cherished.

4) Surprise her with flowers and chocolate (Awfully Chocolate cake or an earl grey chocolate tart from Five and Dime might do the trick too). Sweet surprises always work, any day of the year.

5) In family squabbles, always stand on her side of the fence.

6) Take over child-minding duties when she’s on the brink of losing it. Ask her to head out for some fresh air or a cup of tea or just catch a nap.

7) When she asks you what’s on your mind, don’t say “nothing”. (Making something up may work better than saying nothing.)

8) Bring her shopping and when she finds something that she really likes, give her your real opinions gently. Even if she gets upset with you, she’ll appreciate your honesty later.

9) Make an effort to get to know her girlfriends.

10) Put down the phone and talk to her. Or better yet, institute a mobile-free date night once a fortnight.

11) Send her cute love messages occasionally on weekdays.

12) Don’t cringe or say no when she asks you to buy sanitary pads for her. This is part of her womanhood, embrace it.

13) Help out in the house. Cook or clean something. Men who happily change diapers/wash dishes/hang the clothes to dry are known to be very very sexy.

14) Set a calendar reminder so you know when it’s the time of the month. Then be extra loving and patient, and stock up on chocolate in the fridge without her asking.

15) Pray for her. Make time to read God’s word together.

16) Remember she is a woman, and she needs to be loved, and constantly reminded of your love. (Mornings are a good time to do this.)

17) When you initiate sex, and she’s not feeling up to it, don’t make her feel guilty. Say “it’s really okay, we’ll try tomorrow” and give her a hug and kiss instead.

18) For each time you offer her a constructive criticism or feedback, affirm her for something that she’s done well too.

19) When she gives you the daily report on how the kids were, try to be attentive and interested, even if you’re tired.

20) Give grace when she fails. Don’t rub salt in her wound when she’s already feeling remorseful about something she’s done. You can give her ideas on how to do something better when you know she’s ready to listen.

21) Be patient with her. Give her time to grow into her role (as wife or mother of X number of kids) and rise up to new challenges.

22) Choose family time over hanging-out-with-the-boys time. (Occasionally is good. Often, even better.)

23) Understand her love language. If it’s words of affirmation, give her ample loving and kind words whenever you find a chance to.

24) Write her love notes. Hide them in her handbag. Or use them to wrap a chocolate and hide it in her handbag.

25) If you’re leaving town, pack an activity bag filled with old toys or a new puzzle / game for the kids, and include a token amount of shopping money for her too.

26) Wake her up with a lovingly prepared breakfast in bed. (Think pancakes with chocolate sauce and ice-cream, or a simple french toast.)

27) Allow her to sleep in on a Saturday morning while you bring the kids out for breakfast.

28) Support her when she shares another one of her crazy, whirlwind ideas with you. Or at least listen to it and give her ideas to develop further too.

29) When she wakes up, remind her of how beautiful and precious she is to you.

30) Buy her a thoughtful gift to mark special occasions. (Check out Hipvan, Asos, Pupsik Studio, Zalora, or Blessings & Co)

Let’s listen to what other mums have to say…

I feel loved when my husband makes the effort to protect our family time together by choosing us over other commitments, especially when he sacrifices personal recreation or time with friends to be with us. I also feel cared for when he initiates to help me with the kids or offers to baby sit so I can get some me time! Words of affirmation and appreciation are also soothing to the soul but these days acts of service cut it better ;) – Eeleen

I feel most loved when he loves God and shares God’s word with me. – Ruth

My husband’s a bit like Jiminy Cricket. He tells me when I’ve been unkind, when he feels that something I’ve written lacks punch, or when a photo I’ve taken is just so-so. I’m not ecstatic to receive the feedback, but I appreciate that there is one person in my life that I can count on for an honest, unedited opinion. And even if I don’t agree with him, taking a step back to re-examine my actions or my work has usually meant that something better comes out of it. – Evelyn, The Bottomsup Blog

I love it when he spends time playing with the kids – seeing them laugh and play together is so heartwarming and better than any present he could buy me. Also it’s nice that the kids are distracted for a bit and not always clamouring for mummy all the time. – Edlyn, MummyEd

1. Giving me a break from Noah to have some me-time 2. Surprising me with my favorite dessert 3. Watching my favourite shows with me – Adeline, Growing with the Tans

I love it when he looks after the boys when they wake up at ungodly hours of 5-6am, letting me snooze while he gets them bathed and settled their breakfast. I love it when he quietly tops up the car cash card and petrol for the week, knowing these things rarely occur to me . I love it whenever he gives me a kiss on the forehead before he leaves for work. – Dorothea, A Pancake Princess

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